Leading up to Friday’s Class 4A Division II Region I final meeting between district foes Celina and Aubrey, Chaparrals coach Keith Ivy said his team had extra motivation heading into Apogee Stadium.
It wasn’t enough.
The six-time state Bobcats limited a forceful Aubrey running attack in a 34-0 shutout, ending the deepest postseason run in Chaps history.
Things got away from the Chaps in the first quarter and never quite fell in their favor. After a quick three-and-out start on offense, the Aubrey defense was then tasked with slowing down Celina.
Celina would drive right down the field on its opening possession and cap it off with a 4-yard score from running back Troy Peterson.
That would be the theme for Celina on offense. For a team that had been driven in the pass game behind quarterback Noah Bentley, the Bobcats saw all four of their touchdowns come via the ground game, including three from Gabe Gayton.
Celina’s size and physicality also presented challenges for Aubrey.
“That big front [helped them],” Ivy said. “Last time [we played them, Gayton] had a lot of yards against us. He’s a heck of a back. He’s obviously one of the best in the state, and we just didn’t tackle well tonight.”
Gayton rushed for 182 yards on just 12 carries, while Peterson racked up 87 yards on 18 touches.
The Chaps had allowed just 17 points total through their first three playoff games, but it was the explosive plays Friday that boosted Celina. That included Gayton’s first score of the night that he took 56 yards to make it a 17-0 by the end of the first half.
His next two touchdowns would go for distances of 39 yards and 21 yards, respectively.
“Most of it came down to tackling,” Ivy said. “I thought we covered [Celina] well for most of the night. I felt like we played pretty good in the backend. We just really got manhandled up front and didn’t make the tackles.”
On the night, the Bobcats compiled 340 yards of offense with 258 of those coming via the ground game.
As for the Chaps, they could never find their footing offensively. Aubrey was averaging 469 total yards of offense entering its showdown with Celina but stumbled to just 192 against the Bobcats.
The run-heavy Chaps could only come away with 88 rushing yards, and star Braylon Colgrove was held to just 23 yards rushing.
The Chaps were forced to punt eight different times, including each of their first six drives. The rest ended in two of Semahj Brown’s interceptions, the other on a turnover on downs.
The 2021 season was the most successful in program history for Aubrey, which advanced to their first region final in school history
“I told them to keep their head high,” Ivy said of the Aubrey postgame speech. “They have a whole heck of a lot to be proud of. They have accomplished more than anybody has ever accomplished in Aubrey. They made history.
“So, we’re going to be proud of them. They had a heck of a year, and hopefully we’ll build for the future, and get back to this stage.”